The Australian Editorial
Thursday May 3
Critics who claim the “half tonne” trove of 100,000 secret Iranian documents, files and CDs disclosed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contains nothing new and is of no relevance are being disingenuous. Ahead of Donald Trump’s crucial May 12 decision on the Iran nuclear deal, they are highly pertinent. The brazen “lies and deceit” they reportedly reveal about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions must not be overlooked.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the documents, seized by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in a daring night raid on a Tehran storage facility, provide “proof beyond any doubt” that “the Iranian regime was not telling the truth” when it concluded the nuclear deal with Barack Obama in 2015. What emerges, Mr Pompeo says, is that “Iran hid a vast atomic archive from the world and from the International Atomic Energy Agency — until today”. Disclosing details in front of a large sign reading “IRAN LIED”, Mr Netanyahu maintained that since the signing, Iran “has worked to preserve its nuclear weapons capabilities”. Tehran is claimed to have kept what was known as the Project Amad nuclear program team, headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, “largely in place in a new organisation housed in the Defence Ministry”.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has dismissed the claims as a stunt. But they cannot be ignored as Mr Trump prepares to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency. The subterfuge Iran apparently used to cover up its nuclear program and conclude the 2015 deal with the over-eager and naive Mr Obama is directly relevant to the decision facing Mr Trump. The three European co-signatories, France, Britain and Germany, say the disclosures underscore the need for a deal to be maintained as a bulwark against Tehran resuming its nuclear program. Mr Trump is understandably unimpressed by such arguments. And France, Britain and Germany, while arguing for the US not to abandon the deal, have come around to Mr Trump’s view that it has to be “fixed or nixed”, as Mr Netanyahu says. Iran’s brazen perfidy demands a firm response.